Long before the screen placed the face of Mary Pickford before the eyes of millions of Americans, Phoebe Anne Oakley Moses—aka “Annie Oakley”—had won the right to the title of the first “America’s Sweetheart.” The world loved Annie Oakley, but the road to fame and affection was filled with trials and tribulation. Authors Howard Kazanjian and Chris Enss have written about those difficulties in the new book The Trials of Annie Oakley.
The life story of Annie Oakley is a combination Cinderella fairy story and frontier melodrama. Born in a humble log cabin in Ohio in 1860, young Annie began shooting game to help support her six siblings and twice-widowed mother. At fifteen, she entered a shooting contest where she ended up winning first prize by outshooting her future husband, who also became her manager.
She became well known and loved worldwide for her incredible shooting performances with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, where she captured the hearts of young and old, ruffians and royalty. But she fought many battles along the way—for her life after severe accidents, and for her reputation after becoming the subject of a scandal that spread through the media like wildfire. Throughout her triumphs and trials, however, Annie Oakley never failed to advocate for the causes and individuals about which she was most passionate.
Most students of the Old West and American law enforcement history know the story of the notorious and ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency and the legends behind their role in establishing the Secret Service and tangling with Old West Outlaws. But the true story of Kate Warne, an operative of the Pinkerton Agency and the first woman detective in America—and the stories of the other women who served their country as part of the storied crew of crime fighters—are not well known. For the first time, the stories of these intrepid women are collected here and richly illustrated throughout with numerous historical photographs. From Kate Warne’s probable affair with Allan Pinkerton, and her part in saving the life of Abraham Lincoln in 1861 to the lives and careers of the other women who broke out of the Cult of True Womanhood in pursuit of justice, these true stories add another dimension to our understanding of American history.
In a time when notorious Depression Era criminals were terrorizing the country, the Barker-Karpis Gang stole more money than mobsters John Dillinger, Vern Miller, and Bonnie and Clyde combined. Five of the most wanted thieves, murderers, and kidnappers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the 1930s were from the same family. Authorities believe the woman behind the band of violent hoodlums that ravaged the Midwest was their mother, Kate “Ma” Barker.
Ma Barker is unique in criminal history. Although she was involved in numerous illegal activities for more than twenty years she was never arrested, fingerprinted, or photographed perpetrating a crime. There was never any physical evidence linking her directly to a specific crime. Yet Ma controlled two dozen gang members which jumped to her behest. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called her a “domineering, clever woman who coldly and methodically planned the abduction of two of the nation’s most wealthy men.”
Ma’s misdeeds were well plotted, schemed, and equipped. “The most important part of a job is done weeks ahead,” she is rumored to have told her boys. She is remembered early on as a woman who took her four sons, Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, and Fred to church every Sunday and to every revival meeting that came along. She was also known as a woman who never admitted her sons were capable of wrong doing. She ruled the family roost, defending her brood against irate neighbors whose windows had been shattered by the boys, and later against the police when the boys began their lives of crime in earnest. At a young age they were involved in everything from petty theft to murder.
From the earliest days of the western frontier, women heeded the call to go west along with their husbands, sweethearts, and parents. Many of these women were attached to the army camps and outposts that dotted the prairies. Some were active participants in the skirmishes and battles that took place in the western territories. Each of these women-wives, mothers, daughters, laundresses, soldiers, and shamans-risked their lives in unsettled lands, facing such challenges as bearing children in primitive conditions and defying military orders in an effort to save innocent people.
Soldier, Sister, Spy, Scout tells the story of twelve such brave women-Buffalo Soldiers, scouts, interpreters, nurses, and others-who served their country in the early frontier. These heroic women displayed a depth of courage and physical bravery not found in many men of the time. Their remarkable commitment and willingness to throw off the constraints of nineteenth-century conventions helped build the west for generations to come.
This collection of short stories of the women who entertained the West in makeshift theaters and palaces built to showcase the divas who were beloved by emigrants to the “uncivilized” West will feature well-known and lesser known dancers, singers, and actresses and their exploits. Author Chris Enss will bring her comedic timing and long experience writing about the time and culture of the West to this collection.
Colorado Territory in 1864 wasn’t merely the wild west, it was a land in limbo while the Civil War raged in the east and politics swirled around its potential admission to the union. The territorial governor, John Evans, had ambitions on the national stage should statehood occur–and he was joined in those ambitions by a local pastor and erstwhile Colonel in the Colorado militia, John Chivington. The decision was made to take a hard line stance against any Native Americans who refused to settle on reservations–and in the fall of 1864, Chivington set his sights on a small band of Cheyenne under the chief Black Eagle, camped and preparing for the winter at Sand Creek.When the order to fire on the camp came on November 28, one officer refused, other soldiers in Chivington’s force, however, immediately attacked the village, disregarding the American flag, and a white flag of surrender that was run up shortly after the soldiers commenced firing.
In the ensuing “battle” fifteen members of the assembled militias were killed and more than 50 wounded Between 150 and 200 of Black Kettle’s Cheyenne were estimated killed, nearly all elderly men, women and children.
As with many incidents in American history, the victors wrote the first version of history–turning the massacre into a heroic feat by the troops. Soon thereafter, however, Congress began an investigation into Chivington’s actions and he was roundly condemned. His name still rings with infamy in Colorado and American history. Mochi’s War explores this story and its repercussions into the last part of the nineteenth Century from the perspective of a Cheyenne woman whose determination swept her into some of the most dramatic and heartbreaking moments in the conflicts that grew through the West in the aftermath of Sand Creek.